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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/15/09

Chinese Submarine Tangles With Destroyer USS John McCain – Intentional? Navy Says No. Analyst Says Yes.

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Message Brock Novak

As predicted by the Analyst in the 12 Part “Commulism Series” (COMMUnism fueled by capitaLISM) , the Chinese military, leveraging extraordinary capability growth, continues to up the ante with escalating provocative actions.

Emboldened by an explosive and very successful blue water Navy buildup which has taken most by surprise, and still in denial, the PRC Navy is increasingly flexing it’s stunning new steroid-like muscles at sea, both as a show of strength to western nations/navies, but too intelligence (technology) gathering. In this most recent brazen episode, the Analyst’s characterized “technology theft” attempt incident is being casually dismissed by U.S. officials (at least publicly); not even considered harassment. reports “…. a U.S. military official calls it an "inadvertent encounter," a Chinese submarine hit an underwater sonar array being towed by the destroyer USS John McCain on Thursday. The array was damaged, but the sub and the ship did not collide, the official said. A sonar array is a device towed behind a ship that listens and locates underwater sounds… the (US) Navy does not believe this was a deliberate incident of Chinese harassment, as it would have been extremely dangerous had the array gotten caught in the submarine's propellers…”

While this is being vigorously downplayed by the U.S. Navy, spinned for all intents and purposes as uneventful, it is indeed very eventful. Not unlike the intent and action behind the Chinese confiscation of a highly sophisticated US Navy P3 anti-submarine aircraft in 2001. Both incidents eerily similar from a “technology theft” intent theme.

In the “Commulism Series”, the issue of Chinese espionage (and military) targeting very sensitive U.S. military and civilian technology, and how to thwart those attempts, was detailed and discussed at length. One example was the Navy P3 aircraft abduction, noting:

“…(China’s) perceived motives and tactics not dissimilar to the precedent setting, brief period China took to go through the captured U.S. Navy P-3 anti-submarine warfare plane, and picked that sensitive technology clean. Recall the widely reported and publicized forced landing of a highly sophisticated U.S. Navy P3 antisubmarine plane in 2001 by the Chinese Air Force onto Chinese soil, and one can further see why the Chinese are moving so fast up the technology learning and development curve. Specifically as respects the P3, the Chinese at complete U.S. objection, took it completely apart and with their science and intelligence agencies, comprehensively went through every nook and cranny before returning it piecemeal in boxes, leapfrogging their technology base 10-20 years or more on many fronts. They didn’t want the hardware. They wanted the technical knowledge. Interestingly, the average American voter myopically failed to see the sheer magnitude and longer term collective implications and ramifications of this incredibly sensitive and now compromised technology, instead thinking simply getting the dismantled plane carcass back in a box was the victory.”

As someone with decades of nuclear submarine operational experience, and therefore positioned to discount published reports as wrong, the Analyst suggests this towed sonar array incident can only be viewed as “intentional”. And not unlike the P3 situation objective, with the intent to successfully compromise extremely sensitive U.S. military technology.

The extraordinary real impact and jeopardization of national security of the P3 episode was masked by the media hoopla of simply getting the plane back, after the Chinese spent weeks “de-engineering” all its sensitive technology and secured the technical know-how they wanted. That is, the proverbial horse was already out of the barn when the plane parts were ultimately returned to the U.S.. The U.S. would get this towed array back too but only after it was thoroughly analyzed and de-engineered by Chinese defense and technology scientists.  In relation to the P3 technology compromise incident, a huge parallel exists here with this new incident, disturbingly (and wrongly) being downplayed as a simple “inadvertent encounter (i.e. error)”.

As anticipated in the “Commulism  Series”, the Chinese nuclear submarine program is now reaching disturbing critical blue water navy size (mass) and it aggressively seeks to understand and undermine all anti-submarine warfare technologies of the U.S. and its allies. These sophisticated and sensitive U.S. Navy towed sonar arrays are clearly of deep concern and extraordinary interest to the Chinese.

This U.S. Navy statement, deflective in nature, actually in ironic fashion, provides the answer when it states “the (US) Navy does not believe this was a deliberate incident of Chinese harassment, as it would have been extremely dangerous had the array gotten caught in the submarine's propellers…”.

The Chinese intent was not to avoid the array, but rather steal it vis-à-vis “propeller entanglement’.

The official Navy reports characterize this as a defacto “unintended inconsequential error”. The Analyst views it as an “intentional inconsequential failure”. Errors are innocent mistakes. This was not innocent. It was intentional from the standpoint that the Chinese intent was not routine surveillance but rather very risky submarine maneuvers to get the sonar array caught in the submarines’ propellers (like a glove catching a baseball) and severed from the U.S. Navy ship towing it; this sensitive technology would then be in the hands of the Chinese. Once entangled, the submarine would merely make a quick ballast surface ascent and call for a support ship to disentangle the propeller blades and head to Beijing with the prized sensitive sonar array catch. The same as it did with the captured US Navy P3. Inconsequential (this time) to national security, from the standpoint they were apparently not successful in getting any piece of the array and therefore can’t reverse engineer the technology and/or design counters to it. They apparently failed (this time) in their objective.

The Navy is quoted as saying this would have been “extremely dangerous” (to the Chinese submarine). Not true. The only “extremely dangerous” impact would be to U.S. national security if it had (i.e. propeller entanglement).

The Analyst predicts the Chinese will try again, and soon. They clearly recognize the significant value of the technology and desperately want it, evidence willing to risk strong US Navy defensive measures getting so close and intense negative global PR. The latter however, they learned from the P3 incident is only temporary and therefore not an impediment to their objective.

The question:

When will the US Navy stop masking the incident and publicly acknowledge the real threat/intent of the Chinese Navy and take appropriate anti-technology theft countermeasures?….e.g. Changing the Rules of Engagement vis-à-vis the DOD and State Dept. confronting the Chinese government,  reeling in these arrays at the slightest “wif” of Chinese submarines in the area, etc.

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The cleverest of all, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month - Fyodor Dostoyevsky It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously...Some cause happiness wherever (more...)

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